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10 Reasons Parents Choose to Homeschool

Updated on January 28, 2015
notyouraverageal profile image

Mom. Homeschooler. Mystery shopper. Editor. Wife. These are a few words to describe notyouraverageal. Her life is anything but average.

We have many reasons.

I’ve been fascinated by the reaction to my article, “10 Things Homeschool Moms Wish You Knew.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think people would be offended by that list or think I was using it to judge them. That was not my intention at all. I must say, it always fascinates me to see how different people read and interpret different things in different ways.

One person commented that my list included some of the lamest reasons to homeschool she had ever heard. I had to laugh about that one, because my list had nothing to do with why people would choose to homeschool. However, that comment got me started thinking about the reasons people do choose to homeschool their kids.

Just like there are many, many types of homeschoolers, there are also many, many different reasons we choose to homeschool. We are people, individuals, families, with different motivations and different ideas. Just as parents in a public or private school setting don’t always agree on how to raise their children, neither do homeschoolers. We all have different methods, different theologies and different goals. It’s not fair to lump us all into one stereotype.

I started thinking about reasons parents homeschool, and I came up with a list of ten. This list is certainly not complete, but I think it covers many of the motivations homeschooling parents have.

Here are 10 reasons parents choose to homeschool:

1. For Life

Many homeschoolers have tried putting their kids in school. They found that their lives were ruled by school hours and school activities. By the time their kids got home from school and finished their homework, it was time for them to eat dinner, take a bath and go to bed so they could start all over the next day. The parents felt like they were missing their children’s childhood, since a good portion of it was spend away at school. They decided this was no way to live, so they took control of their children’s education.

2. For Liberty

Many homeschoolers enjoy the freedom of homeschooling. It means they can travel when they want to, they can study when they want to and they can take breaks from studying when they want to. For these families, the freedom of taking a month off during the holidays or doing schoolwork through the whole summer works for them. They like the freedoms that come from not being tied down to a traditional school schedule.

3. For the Pursuit of Happiness

Some homeschoolers tried having their kids in school and just weren’t happy. Therefore, they made a change. They found they enjoyed the freedom of schooling on their own terms, so they kept their kids home. For those families, everyone was happier with the kids not in school.

What Do You Think?

When is it okay for a parent to homeschool a child?

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4. For Religious Reasons

Many times, it is assumed that homeschoolers do so because of religion. Sometimes, that’s true, and sometimes, it’s not. There are many homeschool families who want their kids at home so they can educate them according to their beliefs. However, many homeschool families are not religious, and religion had nothing to do with their choice to homeschool.

5. For Developmental Reasons

Some homeschooled kids have developmental delays or differences that would make it difficult for them to flourish in a classroom setting. In these cases, their parents have chosen to keep them home where they can receive one on one teaching. Of course, many homeschooled kids have no delays at all and are performing at the same level, or even above, schooled kids of the same age.

6. For Their Children's Interests

There are some children who are very interested and very talented in certain areas. These areas would include (but are not limited to) dance, gymnastics, martial arts, acting, music and team sports. The parents of these children found that practicing their activities enough to continue advancing was virtually impossible on school days. In these cases, the parents made the choice to pull their kids out of school and to allow them to pursue their dreams and passions. This does not mean the kids are allowed to just practice their activities and never do schoolwork. Instead, it means the parents can arrange the child’s school schedule to fit around the practices and performances.

7. For Their Children's Safety

Some homeschoolers don’t want to send their kids out into the world. They are afraid their children will be hurt either physically, mentally or emotionally. For these parents, keeping their kids home gives them a peace of mind.

8. For Their Family's Well-Being

Some homeschool parents believe their kids will be closer to them and will grow up loving their siblings more than if they went to school. Many homeschooled kids don’t go through the typical, “I don’t want to be seen with you stage,” that many middle and high school kids face. So, many homeschool parents have made the decision to keep their kids close physically, so they will be close emotionally.

9. For the Fun of It.

Many homeschool families enjoy learning together. Quite frankly, they like each other and enjoy spending time together. For many homeschool parents, the thought of having their kids gone all day every day is dreadful, so they keep them home.

10. For Their Children's Best Interests

This is a broad reason, and I’m pretty sure all homeschoolers would claim this reason as one of their own. Homeschoolers keep their kids home because they believe that is what is best for them. They want their kids to succeed, and they want to give them whatever tools necessary to help them succeed. They are just trying to do what is best for their children. They believe no one else has a vested interest in their children like they do, so that alone, makes them more equipped to train their kids.


Am I trying to convince you to homeschool? Absolutely not. Do I believe you should homeschool? No. Well, at least, I don’t know. That would be a choice for you and your children, just like I made a choice for me and mine. Since I don’t know you, I can’t decide what is best for your family. Since you don’t know me, you can’t judge what is best for mine either.

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      Jenn 6 weeks ago

      This is a good list. The only thing I would add is that sometimes people decide to homeschool because their child's development is *faster* than normal. We had already decided to homeschool, but my son has already confirmed that choice. He has hit every single milestone early and is incredibly self-directed. He's not yet 2 and he is learning the alphabet (and distraught that he can't read yet). If we put him in a school where the pace is set according to an average, he'd either be bored or cause trouble. By keeping him at home, I can let him set the pace.

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      Val 2 years ago

      I have to agree, and personally feel that homeschooling is way Underrated, and public school may be the biggest Overrated thing in our society.

      Our 2 children have been part of the public school "system" for all but one year of their very short 15 & 16 years. The one year we decided to homeschool, was the BEST year of our life as a family so far. Yes we had tears, and frustration, but we had more laughter, and conversations and sitting down together as a family for meals than we have had since they started school.

      There are pros and cons to pretty much every decision you make in life, including the choice of profession or job you choose. I am proud to say that my husband and I have chosen to raise our own children rather than let them be raised by complete strangers, who don't really care whether they had an 80 or a 60 in math....one year later.

      I would homeschool my kids again tomorrow in a heart beat, and believe that every parent should have an opportunity to experience this blessing!

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      HomemakersJournal 2 years ago

      @J. Starolis - Thomas Edison is responsible for products like the carbon telephone, telegraph, phonograph, electric batteries and alkaline batteries. He was also home-schooled starting at the age of 12. Edison's mom took him out of school after a teacher insinuated that he was slow.

      Theodore Roosevelt

      Before going to Harvard and becoming the 26th U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt was home-schooled amid frequent sickness. After graduating from Harvard, Roosevelt went on to attend Columbia Law School.

      Serena Williams

      Celebrated tennis champion Serena Williams began her home schooling in her pre-teen years in order to focus on tennis training

      Agatha Christie

      Famous crime novelist Agatha Christie was educated through tutors and part-time schooling until the age of 15. In her teenage years, Christie was educated at French finishing schools.

      Alan Alda, actor, screenwriter and producer

      Alda started college at 16, after being partially homeschooled

      Erik Demaine, assistant professor of computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the leading theoretician in the emerging field of origami mathematics

      home-schooled by his father, traveled around the United States, settling somewhere new every 6 to 12 months; he started college courses at 12, and received his doctorate at 20 and at the same age became the youngest professor ever at M.I.T. In 2003 he was granted a MacArthur "genius" fellowship.

      Margaret Mead, (1901-1978) anthropologist

      Sometimes she was even schooled at home by her grandmother.

      Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) the discoverer of oxygen, and the father of modern chemistry

      Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) architect

      ...to name a few....

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      Jai 2 years ago

      @ J. Starolis: I understand your confusion on this matter. My mother-in-law was often quite confused about how my children's education in a Montessori environment taught them to survive in the real world.

      I, too, have been a professional educator both in a traditional school setting and in a Montessori school. I also now homeschool my children. I will tell you this: My children are now learning more about cooperative work and how to be respectful when others are working. My children give presentations in their 4H group, art classes, and co-op group. Their learning environment is not limited to those born within the same 12 months, nor are their studies limited to only the subjects presented during "school hours".

      We have in-depth conversations about chemistry, history, biology, physics, and literature while driving, playing, or watching a movie. I am sure that parents of traditionally educated children also have these same types of conversations with their children. But I ask you, how many of those children remember those conversations and bring them up later?

      I also realize that you are not aware that homeschooling is not a modern idea. You would be surprised that homeschoolers have been influential people throughout history. For example: Louisa May Alcott and Albert Einstein were both homeschooled. I think they adjusted to "being in the real world" quite nicely. It is easy for a traditional educator to be offended by the idea of homeschooling, but the fact is that not everyone works in a corporate situation: some work from home; others own their own business. You see, the real world is not segregated by age group or academic level or even by what talents persons possess. It is a mix of stay-at-home parents, work from home people, corporate office workers, bankers, small business owners, inventors, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, architects, designers, artists, musicians, lawyers, accountants, contractors, etc., ... How many of our traditional classrooms look like that? How many of our traditional schools have taken out music, art, PE, or vo-tech classes because they "aren't necessary" for education? I would guess that you have met more homeschooled people out in the real world than you realize. It is not a fringe movement, nor is it a modern idea. It is a choice that some parents make because they feel it is in the best interest of their families-just like other parents choose to send their children to public or private educational facilities as it is the best choice for their families. It is a choice, not an insult.

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      JubieDoo 2 years ago

      @J. Starolis-Just to be clear, the average work day is being surrounded by peers the same age as you? The average work day is sometimes held up by the disruption of one co-worker? The average work day is dictated by ringing bells? The average work day stops everyone at the same time to break for lunch? The average work day has workers in the bosses office daily working out problems of emotional and social outbursts? The average work day shuffles a person around every hour? I have co-workers that range from 20's to 60's. If a co-worker disrupts others working, they will be written up and eventually (3 write ups) will be fired. I am required to remember times like lunch, break, meetings, on my own, without a bell to remind me. My boss rarely has anyone in her office due to outbursts. Funny, I have such a hard time making the public school, real life connection.

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      Howeight 2 years ago from Rochester, Minnesota

      This is a great generalized list. Every minute reason a family chooses to homeschool is not necessary to understand to overall thought process. It boils down to me as to taking responsibility to completely raise the children I have been given. Their character and priorities matter, and when I hand them off to others, I want to make sure their priorities and what they teach for moral guidelines match up with mine. There are likely schools out there that do match up, but why, if I am willing and able to do the academic instruction along with training them in basic life skills, religious beliefs, and being a good citizen, shouldn't I just school them?

      When I read a comment such as that made above by Johnstonmomma, I am a tad disheartened. Though homeschooling becomes more and more acceptable, it rarely is supported by those in the education profession. It's as though they assume this is a personal attack on them. It isn't. I have the utmost respect for anyone who can spend years with other people's children, limited by curriculums chosen by others, forced to focus their attention on testing over their own creative teaching, and of course dealing with less and less parental support, and more and more issues of all kinds. I couldn't do it, and I certainly couldn't do it and get information across to the kids in my classroom. But teachers, paras, volunteers, and the like do it every day, sharing learning with a large group of kids. Me? I only have 6 kids of varying ages. I am only teaching 5 levels of information and disciplining a toddler. I'll take my small home school any day.

      As for the 'this isn't like real life' argument. That classroom of 20 or more kids? How is THAT like real life? When do you work only with people of your own age? When do businesses work well with employees who are not able to be intuitive or self start? And I have to giggle a bit at the charge that my children aren't learning how to deal with different personalities or how to share or work together. There are six distinct personalities, sets of interests, desires, and ages in this home. And that's just the children. There are also two different adults who have to work cooperatively as a married couple, principle/eductors, and more. So no, we are not in a forced situation with strangers, but we are in multiple situations daily that force us to learn to be gracious and kind to each other, to listen and work together to build something lasting beyond the years of school--real relationships, bound by blood & love, that also happen to learn together.

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      G Fisher 2 years ago

      I love the article. I am a home school grandmother. The comments about HS students verses public school students are the same arguments I have heard over and over. All I'd like to say is that my LO is an extremely intelligent little boy who was not having his educational needs met by the public school system. He is First grade age, reading at a 6th grade level with an IQ that is in the 99.7 percentile. He is very much a social person and looks at every outing as "we're going to make new friends". He interacts with people of all ages and walks of life. He attends a home school co op once a week, speaks two languages (learned, not native) chooses to listen to the great composers and Christian music, takes piano lessons, etc as well as being in AWANAs and Sunday School. That being said (as my reason to HS him), my nephew was home schooled, went to a major university on the bright flight scholarship, graduated magna cum laude and is now working a full time job as well as recording music (that he taught himself). The days of home schoolers being seen as "in a cult" are over. And one big plus, is that we never have to have an "active shooter" drill in our home. Instead, we watch animal science movies.

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      Lisa 2 years ago

      I second what Johnstonmomma said. I'm sorry, My 6 yo son presented at a literacy fair. He read a book, created a poster board and presented it to other children and judges. At 6 years old. I don't know how many public school 6 year olds do this. He is also doing a science fair this year. He is also in Tball, Gymnastics, Swimming, Sign language classes, Piano lessons. Sorry J Starolis, but your comment shows your ignorance of how homeschooling works. Sure, there are those HSers who have their kids locked away in a commune type environment, but that is not the norm. BTW- if you want to know how the homeschool kids do in the "real world" compared to public schooled kids, try taking a look at college acceptance of homeschoolers. Colleges recruit HS kids because they have more success, higher graduation rates and better skills than the "average" PS kid. Your judgment that HS kids lack "sharing space" with other students and "dealing with the a variety of personalities" is interesting given that public school environments usually center around a group of kids sitting in a desk, silent, listening to a teacher at a blackboard (dry erase, projector, whatever). Yes, there are group projects, but most of it is "sit quietly in your box, do not interact, do not interrupt, do not stop me to dwell on a point/topic I mentioned because it isn't in the lesson plan or on the test." Sorry, I went to public schools as did all my siblings (one is just 18 now) and while some teachers are great, the basic formula is memorize/regurgitate and test prep-test-posttest follow up. That is not conducive to real creativity or thinking beyond what we know now. I loved public school ,but I can do more for my son and there are more opportunities for him outside the classroom.

      Also, I find it interesting that people have been so conditioned to believe that government run public schools are the only way to go. PS wasn't even mandated until 1918, making it less that 100 years old. How did George Washington, James Madison, Ulysses Grant, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison and so many of our other "great Americans" who we put on pedestals learn before PS?? Oh wait, homeschooling, internships, apprenticeships, hands on- real world learning. Guess it can be done after all...

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      Shannon 2 years ago

      I am new to homeschooling but have always believed strongly in it and have many friends who have done it their whole lives. For me, it is an opportunity to repair the damage that was done to my child in school, help him heal, and deal with all social situations. It is true that we cannot keep our children in a bubble forever. However, the world is pretty scary nowadays and I find it my responsibility as a parent to adequately prepare my children in all aspects of life - academically, socially, emotionally, etc. I have seen what's in the schools (and private schools for that matter). When you homeschool, the opportunities are endless and I am not under someone else's control (ie. a school board, poor teacher, etc). I don't have a background in education but I sure know my children and what's best for them and I'm not going to let them go to college or the military or whatever their life's aspirations are without being prepared to enter this world. I came from all Catholic schools from preschool through college and I assimilated into the "real world" just fine.

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      Andrea 2 years ago

      @Johnstonmomma...thank you for that statement!! As someone who has been public schooled my whole life, I can say without a doubt, public high school is not the real world and does not operate the way the real world does. Not with its social scene, not with it's schedule (um, three months off in the summer? What job does that?)and certainly not with its education. Neither "Public" nor "Homeschool" education prepares students for the real world, but rather, The relationship of the parent to the child is what supremely affects the child's ability to function in the world. The parents love, affection, discipline, training, and time investment in the child is what really matters. Education is secondary, public and private. This is why there are so many public school kids who are struggling. It doesn't matter how professional the teacher is or how many credentials they have. They cannot replace the parent. And whether or not the child thrives in academia depends largely upon their upbringing.

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      johnstonmomma 2 years ago

      @J. Starolis there are many things I would like to address about you comment, but will choose to refrain for my own sanity. However, I do question how your credentials with PUBLIC school children translates to you feeling you have a better handle on how homeschooled kids are in the real world. Have you ever had any real interaction with a homeschooled student? And I am referring to the homeschool student that has been taught in this manner for years, not the independent studies high school kid that was public schooled their whole life. Many homeschoolers are out in the REAL world on a daily basis and are exposed to interactions with all ages, backgrounds, and beliefs. Many attend homeschool groups where presentations, public speaking, and criticism are included. Have you ever heard a frustrated adult say "what are we in high school?!?" That would be because the traditional high school social scene is NOT the real world.

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      J. Starolis 2 years ago

      As a professional educator, child counselor, and mother of two adult children, I feel that homeschooling fails to prepare children for the REAL world. It is truly wonderful to accommodate your child's education to a unique schedule addressing their particular needs. However, this is not how the real world operates. I know of very few businesses allowing their employees flex schedules, so they can pursue personal interests and talents. Most work environments are designed around a"cooperative work environment," sharing space and dealing with the a variety of personalities throughout the day. I question how home schooling develops this skill. Other developmental skills may be lacking in a home educational environment when it comes to presenting the science project to your class, and reckoning with the fact that you could have done a better job, or possibly, that you excelled beyond your classmates. Many, many social skills are assimilated in a school setting in yes, learning to deal with criticism, and not being liked by everyone...this is real life. Let's learn some coping skills early in our development to carry into the adult workplace.

      This is strictly my opinion based on my credentials and 25 years of experience working with children in the public sector. It is of course each parent's prerogative to provide their child with what they feel is necessary to succeed in the real world.

      I will be most curious to see how these children transition into real world business settings.

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      Gina 2 years ago

      Definitely, the reasons for homeschooling are as varied as the kids who are homeschooled. I have loved homeschooling, and think (hope) my kids have, too. But I would never proclaim that it is right for everyone. Some people should NOT homeschool.

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      Lisa M. 2 years ago

      And some homeschool for ALL OF THE ABOVE! A very nice list of reasons!

      I loved your other list too. :)